Firelight Media Sets Documentary Lab Fellows For 2022-2024 –

EXCLUSIVE: Firelight Media today named its latest cohort of fellows for its flagship mentoring program, Firelight Documentary Lab, now in its thirteenth year.

The participants and projects scheduled for the 18-month program from 2022-2024 are Nilu Bhuman (Chirago (wing)), DA Bell (Mr. BacklashSilvia Castaños & Estefania Contreras (Hummingbirds), Naveen Chaubal (PinballPaulina Davis (Co-op: The Kids of Dory MillerAthena Jones (Sisters’ keeper.) Logan Rozos (what will i be), Juliana Sheetz Preston (Providencia), Jian “Jenny” Shi (Untitled Scientist Project), Tsanvi Spawn Hunter (Holder of the sky), Landell Tellington (…that’s why he made a motherReveca Torres (Untitled (Art and Disability Culture)) and Raven Two Feathers (Indigenous s*x).


This year’s set of Documentary Lab projects include stories of transgender and non-binary protagonists in search of supportive communities. profiles politicians and activists seeking to reform racially biased policies and practices in housing and policing; exploring the legacy and contributions of visual artists with disabilities; and investigating the disproportionate rate of breast c*ncer mortality among black women.

Firelight Media co-founders Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith launched the Lab in 2009 to support filmmakers of color working on their first or second feature-length documentary. The company awards each approved project with a $25,000 grant, providing filmmakers with customized mentoring, professional development retreats, and networking opportunities from prominent leaders in the documentary world.

“We are excited to welcome this talented new group of filmmakers to our Documentary Lab,” said Leticia Paguero, Senior Vice President of Firelight Media. and be representative of and accountable to communities. And we need filmmakers who are motivated to challenge dominant narratives about communities of color by representing their lived realities.


Firelight Media has so far supported more than 120 filmmakers of color through its Documentary Lab as part of its mission to make the nonfiction film industry – and public media in particular – more inclusive. Recent alumni of the program include Oscar nominees. climb filmmaker Jessica Kingdon; Isabel Castro, whose first feature Mija It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. and Jon Seri Goff, whose first feature After Sherman It was recently nominated for the Cinema Eye Honor Award.


More information about the cohort’s latest projects can be found below.

Nilu Bhuman, Chirago (wing) – Young Muslim transman Adam Harry dreams of becoming a commercial pilot. After escaping harmful family persecution, she is armed with a Kerala government scholarship, a growing fan base and media presence. Will this be enough to help Adam overcome bureaucratic discrimination and continue his training to become the first Indian-origin transgender commercial pilot?


DA Bell, Mr. Backlash – After the killing of George Floyd sparked a global wave of racial reckoning, a young black Minneapolis City Council member called for the dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Department and a visionary new Department of Public Safety. led the movement. Despite unprecedented waves of local and national support, he faced punishing pushback from the powers that be. The film is a witness to the politics of brutal racial backlash that sweeps across the city and how a city can rise from the ashes.

Silvia Castanos and Estefania Contreras, Hummingbirds – In this late-night summer self-portrait, Silvia Castanos and Estefania Contreras conjure everyday moments of coming of age on the Texas-Mexico border.

Naveen Chaubal, PinballPinball is a coming-of-age journey that follows a 19-year-old boy in suburban Louisville, Kentucky as he journeys into adulthood in the shadow of the war that displaced his family from their Iraqi homeland.

Paulina Davis, Co-op: The Kids of Dory Miller – A New Yorker traces her family’s roots to New York City’s first undivided housing co-op, finding an age-old solution to the current affordable housing crisis.


Athena Jones, Sisters’ keeper. – In this intimate documentary inspired by the filmmaker’s own story as a breast c*ncer survivor diagnosed twice in her 30s, Jones explores why in America Black women are, on average, 40% more likely to die from the disease than white women and explore whether screening guidelines need to be adjusted. More lives could be saved for black women.

Logan Rojos, what will i be – a feature documentary that brings together the stories of two trans boys who died by suic*de and the transmasculinity + community surviving the suppression and isolation that comes with binary masculinity, while offering the resources and imagination to move forward. she does.


Juliana Sheetz Preston, Providencia – After her brother is killed, a Colombian woman watches her family members magically lose their memories one by one. In a country that has often chosen to forget its violent past, Paula wonders what her fate will be.

Gee Jenny” thing, Untitled Scientist Project – When a respected Chinese American scientist comes under scrutiny by the FBI for national security concerns, he faces irreversible personal and social consequences.

Tanvi Spawn Hunter, Holder of the sky – A modern-day American story of colonialism documenting the battle of three Wisconsin tribes to reclaim historic treaty promises made to them by long-standing racism and long-lasting land lust.

Landall Tellington..That’s why he made a mother – With his wife ill and his house facing foreclosure, a brother and sister turn the camera on four generations of their family to reimagine their legacy. As the siblings sift through memories and history, they describe the ease of interracial single black motherhood and its legacy.

Revica Torres, Untitled (Art and Disability Culture) – Artist Rivica Torres imagines how her disabled ancestors Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri Matisse lived and created. Through letters and artifacts, she feels they have paved a path for contemporary disabled artists and their struggles parallel her own. As Reveca connects with contemporary disabled artists, together they envision and work towards a society in which the barriers they face no longer exist and the art and culture of disability is celebrated. .

Raven two wings, Indigenous s*xIndigenous s*x Follows the intergenerational lives of four Native peoples across America in an exploration of the joys of breaking out of the gender binary through the juxtaposition of nature and community.

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